The Temporary Separatists
The Temporary Separatists is a woman*-identified artist collective that seeks to explore the use of collectivism as a feminist methodology in art practice. This is research through praxis: The Temporary Separatists learn by doing: making exhibitions, conferences and essays collectively to explore its lived reality. They also learn by example creating dialogue with past and present collectives, creating a platform from which to disseminate knowledge and generate discussion producing the kind of art world in which they are interested in participating.
*Women = Gender as distinct from Female = biological sex
Why work collectively?
Collectives demonstrate a specifically feminist methodology to art practice where a rootedness in gender and in place offers resistance to the atomising individualism of neoliberal capitalism, making a space not to recreate or infiltrate patriarchal hierarchies, but instead present a radical shift of focus.
The practice of working together, with its call for provisional approaches to creativity that continually respond to circumstances in the present, and thus towards active engagement with difference, shifts the focus of art making away from production and commodity and towards communication and exchange between equals with a shared common interest. Collectivism destabilises notions of authorship, suggesting something that may be closer to the way we live: an acknowledgement that we are shaped by those around us, that we do learn from others, and while we may be different, there are many things that we share. Collectivism can be a way to rethink what artistic practice is and can be: a site for inclusiveness, and social engagement, focused on process rather than product which seeks positive change on a local level, becoming a platform that helps to protect, connect and spread communities.
Why work Separately?
In the light of feminism’s dual program where it both seeks to recognise gendered group treatment while also attempting to find a route to autonomy and liberation from such categorisation, women only spaces and working groups pose an interesting problem. These are spaces where the painful aspects of society are revealed to demonstrate the courage found in the strategy’s contradiction: on one hand seen as ghettoizing but on the other hand as needed over time in contemporary contexts to change cultural ideologies. This strategy acknowledges that gender continues to shape lives, dominating both the economic and the cultural spheres and so calls for feminist action, an action that burrows beneath the surface to confront the subterranean aspects of history that the dominant political vocabulary cannot bare to tackle. The strategy could be summarized as a methodology that realises short-term projects for long-term interests.
Gallery Box, Gothenburg, Sweden
14th May 2016 - 12th June 2016
An Exhibtion Exploring Collectives Working Collectively
The Temporary Separatists propose to use the exhibition space as a site to explore collective making. They hope to consider, to learn by doing, if separatist collective spaces and modes of working can provide a feminist methodology that resists hierarchical and individualistic artistic practice. The exhibition will consider feminisms dual program: where it is both a method to recognize gendered group treatment, and also a route to autonomy and liberation from such categorization. It will interrogate the cultural benefits of collective separatism and ask if such practices can harness the disruptive force produced by this oscillating movement between these two aims that are seemingly at odds with one another. This exhibition will examine authorship, individualism, autonomy and gender and ask if separatist collective working can provide a space for a radical shift of focus away from the hegemony of an atomizing neoliberal ideology. This exhibition will explore these ideas through practice. The full programme can be found here.
Women Working Collectively What is Your Value?
ICA, London, SW1Y5AH
6.30pm Thursday 9th July 2015
Organised by The Temporary Separatists this discussion focused on collectives that are rooted both in gender and in place. Panelists were asked to consider if women’s artist collectives can provide a resistance to the atomising individualism of neoliberal capitalism that is at the heart of current global art markets. This discussion brought together a number of voices from past and present collectives to create a space for dialogue, elliptical associations and learning between and across the generations.
Chaired by The Temporary Separatists (Rose Gibbs and Sofia Landström)
Angela Dimitrakaki, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh
Catherine Elwes, a video artist and writer, co-curated the feminist exhibitions Women’s Images of Men and About Time at the ICA (1980) member of the Women's Art Collective (1975) and Women Art Alliance (1976)
Johanna Gustavsson, artist and collaborator in FAGS – Feminist Art Gallery Solidarity, radikal pedagogik, MFK - Malmö Free University for Women, the YES! association, I want a president... , Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner, The Production Unit
Margaret Harrison, artist and founder of London Women's Liberation Art Group, member of Women's Workshop of the Artists Union (1972)
Details of participants and collectives can be found here